Ship Of Fools

Album: Private Revolution (1986)
Charted: 42 27
  • By the time this single was released, Margaret Thatcher was serving her seventh year as British Prime Minister. Her controversial right-wing policies (as well as President Ronald Reagan's across the pond) inspired a discography of outrage from various Brits including Elvis Costello with the bitter diatribe "Tramp The Dirt Down" and Morrissey with the blatant "Margaret on the Guillotine." Karl Wallinger, formerly of The Waterboys, chimed in with World Party's "Ship of Fools." He doesn't explicitly mention Thatcher, but warns that the rampant materialism of the era will backfire on the greedy, as well as the poor souls along for the ride on the Ship of Fools.
  • Aside from social and economical effects, Wallinger is particularly concerned with the environmental consequences of plundering the earth of its precious resources. He predicts, "Avarice and greed are gonna drive you over the endless sea."

    When asked about the prophetic tune in 2012, he said, "I wasn't trying to be ahead of the curve, I was just writing about things that seemed obvious at the time. We still haven't done anything about it. I can't get my head around the stupidity of materialism."
  • Although she doesn't appear on this track, Sinead O'Connor was a guest performer on Private Revolution, contributing backing vocals to the title track and "Hawaiian Island World."
  • This was used on One Tree Hill in the 2004 episode "The Living Years."
  • This was used in the '80s-themed movie Take Me Home Tonight, starring Topher Grace and Anna Faris.
  • The "Ship of Fools" concept has been around since Plato's Republic, written in 380 BC. In Book VI, the philosophy uses it as an analogy to describe the instability of democracy, with a captain trying to navigate a ship full of mutinous sailors who think they can do the job better. The idea inspired the 15th-century satirical novel Ship of Fools by Sebastian Brant and the Hieronymus Bosch painting of the same name. The phrase gained popularity in rock lyrics (see The Doors' "Ship Of Fools") after Katherine Anne Porter published her allegorical novel Ship of Fools in 1962.

Comments: 1

  • Devilsfan from San Francisco2018 updated video, still appropriate.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBzYhHZJBKA
see more comments

00s Music Quiz 1Music Quiz

Do you know the girl singer on Eminem's "Stan"? If so, this quiz is for you.

Barry Dean ("Pontoon," "Diamond Rings And Old Barstools")Songwriter Interviews

A top country songwriter, Barry talks about writing hits for Little Big Town, Tim McGraw and Jason Aldean.

Famous Singers' First FilmsSong Writing

A look at the good (Diana Ross, Eminem), the bad (Madonna, Bob Dylan) and the peculiar (David Bowie, Michael Jackson) film debuts of superstar singers.

Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow)Songwriter Interviews

Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai were two of Graham's co-writers for some '80s rock classics.

Director Paul Rachman on "Hunger Strike," "Man in the Box," KissSong Writing

After cutting his teeth on hardcore punk videos, Paul defined the grunge look with his work on "Hunger Strike" and "Man in the Box."

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music SceneSong Writing

With $50 and a glue stick, Bruce Pavitt created Sub Pop, a fanzine-turned-label that gave the world Nirvana and grunge. He explains how motivated individuals can shift culture.